What's Spanish for "Chutzpah?"
By Steve Sailer – VDARE.com September 12, 2004
While reading Bryanna Bevens' VDARE.com account of the new Spanish-language reality show Gana la Verde ["Win the Green"] in which immigrant contestants eat worms and the like to garner the help of immigration lawyers in getting their Green Card, I noticed that the show was produced by a division of Liberman Broadcasting, which owns 15 Spanish-language radio stations and four television stations.
"Wait a minute," I thought "Where have I heard the name 'Liberman' before?"
Then I remembered—it featured in one of the funniest affirmative action conundrums that Dan Seligman covered in his wonderful old "Keeping Up" column in Fortune. (Here's Peter Brimelow's profile of Seligman.)
A mysterious aspect of the debate over ethnic preferences is that while everyone seems to have a strong opinion about affirmative action for African-Americans, almost nobody (except us here at VDARE.com) seems to care that Hispanics also benefit from quotas. Yet Latinos now outnumber blacks. They therefore deprive whites of even more jobs, given quotas’ zero-sum nature.
This is especially puzzling since the most persuasive argument for preferences for blacks—that quotas are compensation to the descendents of slaves—doesn't apply to Hispanics. They were never slaves here. And it makes even less sense to give preferences, as public policy now does, to newly-arrived Latino immigrants. They are presumably choosing a better life for themselves in America, with its warts and all. Above all, it is especially bizarre to provide affirmative action to illegal immigrants, as is often done. But hardly anybody makes a peep about it.
Moreover, preferences for Hispanics are awarded based on ethnicity, which is an even fuzzier concept than race. Nobody seems to have a clear idea of who exactly is eligible.
For example, if your father is Hispanic but not your mother, that makes you Spanish-surnamed, so you're probably in.
But what if you were raised by your Irish-American mother and didn't see your Ecuadorian father, like slutty singer Christina Aguilera? How can you be of Hispanic culture if all you have is a Spanish surname?
What if you are Spanish-surnamed but the connection to anyone Hispanic is distant. For instance, I have a friend with a Spanish last name whose Irish family claims it descends from an admiral in the Spanish Armada who was shipwrecked in Ireland in 1588, settled down, and married a local colleen. Is he Hispanic?
What if your mother is Hispanic but not your father? New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, for example is constantly described as America's only Hispanic governor, although he doesn't have a Spanish surname.
What if only one grandparent was Latino, like singer Mariah Carey?
How about one great-grandparent? One great-great-grandparent? Where does the madness end?
Can you be Hispanic if you are from Mexico, but don't speak Spanish, like the 100,000 or so Mixtec Indians in California?
What about Brazilians? They are Latin Americans but they aren't Hispanic—they are Lusitanic.
What about Spaniards? If King Juan Carlos of Spain abdicated and moved to America, would he be eligible for special minority development loans from the Small Business Administration?
What if you are a Spanish-hating Basque separatist terrorist who is on the run for blowing up a police station in Spain?
What if you have a Spanish surname for a first name, like Gomez Addams on the old "Addams Family" TV show?
As the King of Siam would say, "'Tis a puzzlement." But the Liberman case took the issue of who is Hispanic to a surreal new level.
To help me explore the story, Dan Seligman kindly faxed me his "Keeping Up" column of August 10, 1981. It explained how the Liberman family, whose patriarch was born in Poland, cost the taxpayers a sizable amount of capital gains taxes on the sale of a Los Angeles AM radio station by having themselves declared by the Federal Communications Commission to be officially "Hispanic."
As Seligman recounted:
"It seems that Storer [Broadcasting] sold an AM radio station in Los Angeles to a company owned by a family named Liberman. After the sale, Storer and the Libermans asked the FCC to grant the certificate that makes the tax advantage possible. Their contention was that the Libermans were a minority family. In acceding to this argument the other day, the FCC noted that they ‘are regarded by both themselves and their community as being Hispanic,’ to which the commission added: 'The Liberman family is descended from Spanish Jews who were expelled from Spain in 1492. Although Adolfo Liberman was born in Poland, the language spoken in his home during childhood was Castilian Spanish…'"
This is really quite intriguing. The possibilities seem endless:
If Lord Beaconsfield, also known as British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, whose ancestors were also driven out of Spain in 1492, had had any direct descendents, and they illegally immigrated to America, would they be eligible for quotas reserved for Hispanics?
How about Moroccan Muslims whose ancestors were kicked out of Spain in 1492? (It was a busy year.)
If you are a descendant of the philosopher-king Marcus Aurelius and his no-goodnik son Commodus [VDARE.com note: Played by Puerto-Rican born, Hispanic first -named child of American missionaries Joaquin Phoenix in Gladiator], two Roman Emperors whose family originated in Spain, does that qualify you for affirmative action in this country?
Diversity, as we all know, is strength. It’s also a corrupt racket.
Steve Sailer is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and movie critic for The American Conservative. His website www.iSteve.com features site-exclusive commentaries.
Last updated 16/09/2004